Anthropogenic pressure and climate change can affect the structural and functional role of aquatic ecosystems. Moreover, human health can be directly or indirectly affected by environmental factors, due to exposure to contaminants. In central Italy, the summer of 2017 was characterized by high temperature (heat wave) and low rainfall that had an impact on the main reservoir of drinking water (a central Italian lake). The purpose of the study was to evaluate the environmental impact of water abstraction in a Tiber River tributary, as well as to increase knowledge of the link with human and environmental health.
The experimental approach was based on the assessment of environmental parameters and ecological quality status through the analysis of biological communities (WFD 2000/60/EC). Furthermore, faecal indicator microorganisms were recovered to evaluate the potential risks for human health. Water and biological samples were collected at three sampling points along the river in different campaigns. The results showed that the sites generally have a good ecological status, although a slight change of boundary class was also observed. It is difficult to establish the cause of this lowering of quality, since it would require a longer period of observation of the communities to determine if it is a reversible process or not, or if it might depend on water abstraction. In conclusion, the ecosystem approach adopted in this study provided a full vision useful for the planning of prevention and/or protection measures for aquatic ecosystems and for human health.